Pakistan should prosecute those responsible for attacks in India instead of simply placing some under house arrest and allowing others to roam free and deliver speeches, says former diplomat of that country Husain Haqqani.
He also warns that unless all jihadi groups are seen as threats and action is taken by Pakistan against them, more attacks like the one on Pathankot airbase will occur, adding the jihadis have not brought Pakistan success over the last 30 years and will only inflict more damage on that country in years to come.
The former ambassador of Pakistan to the US says being smaller than India, Pakistan cannot succeed in a conventional military offensive but it hopes to force India’s hand by disrupting life in its cities and creating fear all round and this deep-rooted desire for military competition even by unconventional means is the reason why terrorism endures.
In an interview to PTI, Haqqani spoke about his latest book ‘India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?’ and issues related to Kashmir, Pakistani Army and normalisation of ties.
He decided to write this book, published by Juggernaut, to get “through to young Pakistanis and young Indians” as hate is not good foreign policy.
He says the setting up of a joint investigation team on the Pathankot attack case “reflected the desire by the civilian government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to demonstrate to India his intention” of improving relations.
“It also reflected the need for the military to alleviate international pressure by demonstrating its willingness to investigate the attack. However, like earlier such investigations until and unless all jihadi groups are seen as threats and action is taken against them, more such attacks and many more such investigations will take place,” he says.
“I have repeatedly stated ever since the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan has to seriously prosecute those responsible for attacks in India instead of simply placing some under house arrest and allowing others to roam free and deliver speeches. This also applies to the Pathankot investigation,” says Haqqani, currently the Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute.
In his book, now available on the Juggernaut app, he says Pakistan uses terrorism as a low-cost means of bleeding India and Pakistani terrorist groups’ masterminds are almost always set free by Pakistani courts.
Asked about it, he says, “Pakistan’s current army chief, General Raheel Sharif, has mobilised the military against jihadi groups that attack inside Pakistan and that is a positive thing. But the policy of tolerating and supporting jihadis attacking Afghanistan and India remains unchanged.”
He suggests that Pakistan needs to “shut down the jihadi groups and India needs to reassure Pakistan’s establishment that it is not out to gobble up Pakistan and the paranoid support of terrorism is unnecessary”.
Haqqani also alleges that India’s approach to Pakistan has been inconsistent. “It neither sustains dialogue for long enough for it to bear fruit nor does it stay away from talks consistently to convey the message that talks and terrorism cannot go together.”
Asked whether Sharif needs to reciprocate gestures like the one made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he went to Lahore and attended the wedding of the former’s grand-daughter, Haqqani replies, “Gestures only go so far in ending mistrust and changing entrenched security policies. I think it is time for substantive actions, not just gestures that look great for a few days but have no lasting impact on the relationship.”
On Kashmir issue, the former diplomat says Pakistan never had a strategy to press its claim and always approached the issue emotionally.
“Over the years at regular intervals, India has called for normalisation first while Pakistan has insisted on ‘resolving’ Kashmir first without offering alternative intermediate solutions. This encapsulates the predicament of India-Pakistan discussions.”
He is of the view that normalisation of relations with India is far more important for Pakistan today than it was in the early years of its life as an independent state.
“The problem for Pakistan’s ruling elite is that after 69 years of describing Kashmir as Pakistan’s primary national ‘cause’ it is not easy, especially for an overbearing military, to effectively manage a major shift in national priorities.”